ISRO to launch Chandrayaan-3 and Aditya L-1 solar mission in 2023
The Chandrayaan-3 mission was originally scheduled for late 2022, but has been postponed to ensure success after its predecessor failed in 2019.
In a response to a query in the Lok Sabha, the government has clarified the internal deadlines set by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for the moon mission Chandrayaan-3, the solar mission Aditya L-1, and various checks needed for the human spaceflight mission Gaganyaan.
Chandrayaan-3 was originally scheduled to launch in mid to late 2022, but delays have pushed it back to Q1 2023. ISRO is being cautious with its third mission, after the failure of Chandrayaan-2 in 2019 to put a lunar rover on the surface of the moon.
The new mission aims to correct this failure by putting a new lander and rover on the moon. It will use the Vikram moon orbiter from Chandrayaan-2 that was commissioned to work for seven years from launch. If successful, the new mission will help India become only the fourth country in the world to land a rover on the moon after the USA, Russia, and China.
The Aditya L-1 is also scheduled to be launched in Q1 2023. The solar mission aims to study a number of properties around the sun, including the dynamics and origins of coronal mass ejections. It will be India's second astronomy mission after the AstroSat was launched in 2015.
ISRO's ambitious Gaganyaan human spaceflight mission is still a while away, but the government provided deadlines for some of the preliminary goals. An abort mission, wherein ISRO will test if a crew can escape from the spaceship mid-flight, will be tested later this year. A similar abort mission, but focussed on escaping from the launch pad, was tested in 2018.
Speaking at the opening of the three-day human spaceflight expo in Bengaluru, ISRO chairman S Somnath was more specific about the Gaganyaan timeline. Reported by the Indian Express, he said that he hopes that all the preliminary tests go well in the next few months, and the selected astronauts, who are currently in training, will be able to take off by late 2023.
Additionally, ISRO is also looking to test a space docking feature, wherein two satellites will be launched and made to dock with each other in space. The Lok Sabha reply stated that this mission is slated for late 2024. This could be the first step towards building India's own space station.
Edited by Megha Reddy